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Summer Readings

With the conference season finally coming to an end, academics or other researchers might want to reflect and think back on past events. I want to draw your attention to two opportunities for summer readings with reports on past events accessible online: – the reports on sessions of the International Medieval Congress 2018 in Leeds are online. Some are even written by your humble scribe of these few lines, so some do even concern medieval games and competitions. Don’t forget to check them out! …

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IMC Leeds 2018

It’s that time of the year when many medievalists gather in the English city of Leeds to proceed to the annual International Medieval Conference, taking place from July 2nd to July 5th 2018. This year’s celebrating the 25th return of the conference with the thematic strand « Memory ». Out of 1903 (!!!) proposed sessions, this post will shed some light on the sessions dealing with medieval games and play. But, before going through the program, please allow me to advertise the initivite run by our …

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Out now: Educative Games and Ludic Knowledge II

We are delighted to announce the publication of the second volume of the proceedings of the 2015 conference « Jeux éducatifs et savoirs ludiques dans l’occident médiéval », edited by Francesca Aceto and Vanina Kopp! Just as the first one, the review Ludica. Annali di storia e civiltà del gioco did an amazing job in creating a beautiful object, and our contributors gave all their best for making their articles an interesting read! Here ‘s the summary of volume II, in Ludica 23 (2017): Jeux éducatifs …

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Conference 14-17 February 2018: Games and Competitions in Medieval Societies

  Click here to get the conference program ! Presentation Particular games and contexts have attracted wide interest in recent research. But further studies are needed on the cultural history of the ludic in pre-modern societies, with its all-pervasive character and relevance throughout society. The goal of this conference is to explore the elementary meanings of ludic aspects of leisure time in medieval societies, notably examining their agonistic character, in sport and in societal competition. In medieval life, games and competitions were spaces for power plays, communication, …

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Francesca Aceto (EHESS)

“Scientifici duelli”. Reflections on the relationship between game, science and competition during the era of the Great Italian Wars (XV-XVIth centuries) The role of military imagination in the history of Western thought has been an essential question, making it a focus of recent research. The case of Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries offers us particularly significant examples, and deserves special attention. This involves an interrogation of the source of this ‘sentiment du fer’ (Pascal Briost) which, if spread at the end of …

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Anna Akasoy (Graduate Center, CUNY)

Playing with Birds of Prey at Medieval Muslim Courts The book of Adham and Ghitrif, one of the oldest preserved treatises on falconry in Arabic, begins with a chapter on ‘the first who played with birds of prey’. The anonymous author of Umayyad times offers a compilation of anecdotes about Persian, Byzantine, Arab and Visigothic rulers who discovered independently the practice of hunting with different species of birds of prey. Their interactions with the birds as well as with each other reflect the multiple …

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Pierre-Henry Bas (université Paris III)

The playful conventions in fencing competitions at the end of the Middle Ages and early Modern Era The Germanic fight books (Fechtbücher) are medieval and Renaissance works about fencing, wrestling and jousting. It is a technical literature, specialized, a Fachliteratur, exposing the theoretical way to handle different types of swords, shields or staff weapons, in different contexts: the judicial duel, street fighting or agonistic games. The study of this type of literature is complex, the authoritative project being very obscure. That can be a …

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Adrien Belgrano (EHESS)

Violence against dancers, violence among dancers: the social issues of dance at the beginning and the end of the 14th century A superficial reading of romance or clerical sources might give an impression that dance is mainly an activity of pure leisure. Whereas a deeper investigation enlightens us to the fact that it seems to be the place of massive symbolic investment, which can explain its increasing presence in romances, but also in pastoral literature throughout the fourteenth century. Dancing, although generally presented as …

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Guillaume Bureaux (université de Rouen)

Urban Issues of the Pas d’armes in the 15th and 16th centuries The city is not to be considered as a simple piece of the princely political ‘puzzle’, nor is it a contre-pouvoir ready to rise systematically in the case of a disagreement with the ducal power. The city, as the seat of a particular power, is a privileged partner to relay, support and represent the noble power. Two tendencies emerge from reading the sources, whatever they may be. In Anjou and in the …

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Constanze Buyken (IFRA)

Aspects of gender in the rituals of exclusion, punishments and disciplinary measures in 15th century tournaments In the 15th century, tournaments were a crucial, almost omnipresent element of the festive culture in European civilisations and, thus, an essential locus of sociability. They translated into magnificent festivities and offered a place for political and diplomatic encounters, social representation and communication. As such, tournaments were also a central occasion of public contact, interaction and communication between men and women. Therefore, as I argue in my research, …

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Pierre Chaffard-Luçon (université Paris I)

Canonical prohibition of the Tournament Medieval canon law was highly concerned by violence and gives a perfect illustration of the famous adage “Ecclesia abhorret a sanguine”. The Peace and Truce of God represented the most significant contribution on this subject — the Church wished to dampen chivalry and to protect women and children. But Rome’s action was not limited to times of war, it also concerned itself with knight’s tournaments and the entertainment of the nobility. Pope Innocent II was the first pope to …

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Jean-Dominique Delle Luche (université Paris I)

Standardisation of performances and competitions between organising cities: crossbow and long gun shooting in High Germany (1458-1478) Shooting contests – either with crossbows or with firearms – were the main sportive and festive events in the urban culture of the Holy Roman Empire during the 15th and the 16th centuries. Not only were they a, mostly friendly, confrontation of individuals, but also a gathering of delegations funded by their home cities. Each city council would then benefit symbolically from their champions’ prizes. This paper …

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Uwe Israel (TU Dresden)

Endgame at the court of Burgundy. Olivier de la Marche on the Ludic elements in the Chevalier délibéré (1483) The allegoric poems of the courtier in service of Philip the Good, Charles the Bold and Mary of Burgundy show strong (auto)-biographical traits. They recount the adventures of their author and the tragic destiny of his lords in the battle against the unassailable Knights of Death: that of misfortune and obsolescence. The various knightly tournaments are portrayed in word and image in the manuscripts and …

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Christian Jaser (HU Berlin)

Ludic competition? Agonism of the Palio race in the Italian Renaissance Since the thirteenth century, nearly every town in Northern and Central Italy hosted annual horse races for the prize of a precious piece of cloth called bravium or palio. On the basis of an unparalleled dense documentation, palio racing emerges as a fully developed competitive ‘sport culture’ that could be studied for the first time since antiquity in all of its relevant dimensions — from planning and organisation, to the competitive performance itself, …

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Corinna Kirschstein (Universität Wien)

“What Pleasure May Thee Arise from It?” ‘Pig-beating’ as a Game Constituting Participation and Order in the Late Middle Ages Embedded in festivities and other social events, games and competitions formed a vital part of social life in the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era. They produced an amenable and transient social formation that served as a stage for conflicts and alliances, which could not be dealt with in other ways. In this way, this entertainment became a substantial part of social …

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